A Spanish mayor who became known for his anti-austerity activism, including last week's robin hood style supermarket raids for families who can't afford to eat, began a three-week march on Thursday across the region of Andalusia to draw attention to energize anti-austerity campaigners in the recession stricken country.
Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, regional lawmaker and mayor of the town of Marinaleda, set out with 1,000 other marchers on Thursday in hopes of persuading other local leaders to refuse to comply with the Spanish government's austerity reforms.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government has increasingly pursued a pro-bank, pro-austerity approach to the country's current economic hardships, including a 100-billion-euro ($125 billion) bailout for the country's banking system, and a $79.85 billion austerity package designed to cut unemployment benefits and civil service pay, privatize public assets, raise taxes and a raise the retirement age by two years.
Gordillo's march, instead, will be calling on the people of Spain and local administrative leaders to reject these measures by skipping debt payments, stopping layoffs, ceasing home evictions and ignoring central government demands for budget cuts.
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"We want the government to be sensitive to us and think more about those who are suffering than about the banks," Gordillo's deputy mayor Esperanze Saavedra told NBC News.
"There are people who don't have enough to eat. In the 21st century, this is an absolute disgrace," Gordillo told Reuters this week.
Unemployment in Spain is the highest in at least 30 years, with almost one in four of the population out of work.